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Wooden Coaster Figure 8.....The Grand Pier Weston Super Mare

A

Anonymous

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Hey , my uncle has been bothering me about this for ages now so thought I would ask.....he claims to have ridden a wooden rollercoaster called the figure 8 at the grand pier weston super mare! He cannot find any reference to the coaster ever existing and refuses to believe that a rollercoaster can simply vanish without a trace. I have googled the coaster but nothing. My uncle seems to think it was dismantled in the 60's. He apparently has been incontact with CF for information but has had no joy.

Any information will be gratefully received.....thanks
 

Ian

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According to RCDB, there was a steel coaster that closed in 1994 and apparently a woodie back in the 60's.

http://www.rcdb.com/pd1485.htm

I've been googling for a while but I'm either not searching correctly or there is no more info.

EDIT: I've found this: http://www.rollercoastermayhem.com/UKwoodencoasters.htm which says that there was a woodie on Birnbeck Pier called "Switchback" but there are no dates...and my knowledge of W-S-M is non-existant so I don't even know if that's the right (or only) pier.
 

furie

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If RCDB have only a vague idea, chances are it was something quite small.

Wooden coasters called "figure 8" tended to be the old Toboggan coasters (side friction coasters in a figue eight layout, developed in the late 1800's).

At the turn of the 20th century, these were developed into traveling coasters. The Figure 8 at Folkstone (demolished 2007) was one of the traveling variety from around 1922 I think. It had just been set permanently at Folkstone for a few years (not since 1922).

So, there's a chance that at some point, one of these traveling Figure 8's was installed for a short time at Weston-S-M. Much like a traveling spinning mouse arriving at your local common for six weeks each summer, then packed up for the winter, and returning the next year for another summer season.

As it's not a permanent year round attraction (or if it was just there a couple of seasons (old records not being as good as they are now)), then it's likely to be missed from most of the record books - as are most rides in traveling fairs.

It seems odd to us now, I think, to come to terms with a wooden coaster being a traveling ride, but they were. So it seems likely that there was, but as it was only temporary (in the grand scale of things), no real record has been made of its attendance :)
 

Dave

Well-Known Member
Bit off topic, but on that link reminded me of the figure 8 that was on Clarence Pier, I still need to do research on it. I went to the archives and found one picture of it, and it is a simple figure 8.
 

NASHER

New Member
I am live in WSM so maybe I can clear some stuff up.
The "old pier" or Birnbeck Pier is at the far eastern end of the town. It is way up past where most tourists would go. (if you have been to or live near Weston, it is tucked underneath the large wooded hill at the end of the town)
It was built for steamships from wales and there was quite a substantial fairground on there at one point, including a water chute. If your father did ride a rollercoaster in Weston in the sixties, it was likely to be here, as the grand pier had a fully enclosed pavillion with no room for a Wooden Coaster (atleast until it burned down) I also find it highly unlikely that the "Bllizzard" Listed on RCDB was ever actually on Weston Pier due to the lack of space, and difficulty erecting it in a crowded indoor room.
Unfortunatly the grand pier is not in good shape at all and will probably be turned into flats by Urban Splash (who own it) within the next few years (if it doesn't collapse) which is a shame because it is a beautiful pier.
I hope this clears it up a bit! :wink:
 
A

Anonymous

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I know about the Switchback that used to be on the old pier (birnbeck) and the wooden coaster that I`m on about was not from a travelling fair as it was in place from the late twenties/ early thirties until the early to mid sixties.
I`ll keep on trying and in fact have e-mailed the museum in Weston for info but havent heard back yet.
 

furie

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Hope you appreciate this? :p

I've done some research for you.

First up, generally, large rides are pretty well documented. They're noted and photographed and set in history. Exact dates and details may end up lost, but I've never heard of an entire ride go missing (though if it was missing from history, I wouldn't have heard of it :lol: ).

Even Switchbacks which only lasted a couple of years on a remote beach are documented.

So, looking at a purely documented history side - there's no evidence of there ever being a ride on the pier at Weston during that period. So right away, I'm afraid that I have to say that your Uncle is wrong about it, and certainly about the time frame concerned (a portable ride there for a short while may slip under the net, but not a permanent structure.

So, the next step is to look at other documented proof. We know there is a documented Le Marcus Thompson Switchback are Birnbeck - so let's hunt for it.

Two postcards show the Switchback, in varying states of repair:
http://www.oldukphotos.com/graphics/Eng ... r%20II.jpg
http://www.oldukphotos.com/graphics/Eng ... 00%27s.jpg

I suspect the latter one is a true reflection and the former is an idealistic view. The latter photo certainly seems to be the same kind of period (late Victorian/Early Edwardian), but there could be 20 years between both images. I'd say the absolute latest the latter image is is in the 20's.

By 1955, the Switchback is clearly gone:
http://www.francisfrith.com/search/engl ... W69076.htm

So it's certainly not the Switchback on Birnbeck he's thinking of as it's gone by the 60's, and there's no photographic evidence of a ride on there any later.

So, that leaves the Grand Pier. Here we have a view of the Pier and promenade are in 1935:
http://www.francisfrith.com/search/engl ... _87148.htm

No sign of a coaster there at all. So 1935 there is no coaster. Figure 8's were certainly being made at this time, but generally, coasters were only going into established parks. There isn't one on the sea front at Weston by this period (there's evidence of a small park during the late 1800's on the sea front, but it's gone by the 1920's).

So, no coaster in 1935.

Let's look later Lots of shots C1955... The photographs at this time are a little harder to get such a good over view, but we have these:

Grand Pier and the sands (this shot was taken at roughly the same place the old park stood in the 1800's):
http://www.francisfrith.com/search/engl ... W69063.htm

Grand Pier Entrance from the right:
http://www.francisfrith.com/search/engl ... 69079t.htm

Clearly no sign of a coaster structure at all. It's worth noting that generally, coasters are well photographed if they're in a prominent place on the sea front. So the fact that out of 133 photos of WSM over 100 years of history, there are none opf a coaster - leads me to believe there wasn't one. Having said that, there's no photographs of the later coaster mentioned on RCDB either, but there isn't of the one at Trentham gardens - there are periods where images haven't surfaced yet as they're actually TOO recent.

Just to finish off, two shots of the marine lake area of WSM, just to make sure that we've covered anywhere that may also have had the coaster on the sea front:
http://www.francisfrith.com/search/engl ... W69048.htm
http://www.francisfrith.com/search/engl ... W69018.htm

There just isn't anything written, or photographed about it. The only thing it could possibly be is the coaster mentioned in passing on RCDB - this coaster indoors that they seem to have got wind of. This could have just been a small coaster, but it might also have just been a simple ride. If it was anything major, it would have a footnote somewhere - you'd certainly be able to see if a Figure 8 or any largish coaster was on the pier - the building would be quite notable.

So, I suspect that your Uncle has a slight mis-memory problem... It may have been a different resort he used to holiday at.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Thankyou everybody for your time and effort!!! :)

He is still going off on one, thankgod he's miles away....lol. We argued about it nearly all sunday, he is very insistent about it. I have asked and researched and thats enough.

Cheers
 

furie

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Show him the photos and see if he still insists LOL!

I like a good bit of detective work, and it's worth it if we CAN uncover something lost... It just doesn't look like it sadly :(
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
the "lost coaster"

Hi everybody,
I am the uncle and I have ridden the wooden figure 8 coaster in question so I know it existed.And no,I dont have a mis memory!

It was indoors so none of the pictures displayed on this thread could possibly show it and also as it was purpose built for the inside of the large building on the end of the Grand Pier at Weston (now burnt down) it could easily fit inside.
It wasnt a massive coaster but the building was quite high and it used the available space cleverly with many other smaller rides below and around about the structure.The ride was dismantled and scrapped in the early to mid sixties and was built around the late twenties to early thirties.

Can I also say that the ride was on the Grand Pier and not the older birnbeck pier.(there seems to be some confusion on this thread).

Somebody somewhere must know about this ride.But only older people like myself will probably remember it.
This "lost coaster" must return!
 

furie

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See, that ties in to what RCDB has, but there's no other evidence than the passing mention (probably from somebody like yourself).

The problem is, I don't think photos where often taken inside buildings, so it's all down to memory.

I'm not disputing the fact there was a coaster somewhere in the building at the end of the pier - just saying it couldn't have been a large -what is called- "figure 8" coaster.

I assume it was a smaller kiddie type of coaster? There were even steel coasters around at that time (which still run today) which were custom built.

At least we've got it narrowed down to the coaster we do know about, we just don't have any details on it :(
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
It wasnt a kiddie type coaster and it was actually called The Figure Eight.
I`ve also deduced when it was built from records of the first fire on the Grand Pier in 1930.
The pavillion at the end of the pier was reopened in 1933 housing a funfair instead of a theatre and is quite a large building.The Figure Eight must have been built between 1930 and 1933 and opened in the summer of 1933.
The ride occupied the full height of the pavillion and from my memory one half full side.It had two circle ends joined together by a figure eight.
I would guess it to be about twice the size of a Wild/Mad Mouse and about the same height.It was made entirely of wood.

I Just hope someone can remember it.
Or maybe (yeah right) I am the last person left alive to have ridden it.
 

furie

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You may the last person online with such good knowledge of it :)

It sounds like a traditional figure 8, which I would have thought was too big for the end of the pier (I've not been though, so I don't really know the scale of the pavilion). However, there were two types I've seen, one with a double decker of track, and one with a triple decker of track.

It must be because it was hidden inside that there's no evidence of it. I'll ask around some people I know and see if anyone else can shed any light on it. Certainly somebody knows something... It's just finding them.

By the way, sorry if I appeared iffy before, it's just that there wasn't much detail off your niece to go from :)
 

furie

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Well, this has been fascinating, if fruitless :lol:

Some great photo's here:
http://www.thewestonmercury.co.uk/conte ... hotos.aspx

Including this one showing the pier 'between pavilions':
http://www.thewestonmercury.co.uk/conte ... ge_16.html

This history I assume you've already read:
http://www.thewestonmercury.co.uk/conte ... story.aspx
Says that 1931 the Pavilion opened with a few rides, then 1933 it was a huge amusement park - part of that would almost certainly be a coaster if it could fit. Butlins were installing Figure Eights at this time at their parks, so it's certainly not out of the question one could have been built.

Still absolutely no evidence, though there ARE some indoor shots from the pier...

There are some great snippets of Weston's history here:
http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/wdp/news ... ticle.html

And details of Birnbeck (and a glimpse of the competition between Birnbeck and Grand piers) here:
http://www.birnbeckpier.org/birnbeck_pier_history.php

If the Grand Pier competed against Birnbeck, and won, then they had to have more to offer. Birnbeck in 1933 still had the Switchback and an amusement area. It would stand to reason then that to outdo them, the Grand Pier would have had to have 'more'.

Still hunting for evidence though, nothing at a ll mentioned about the coaster - but it must have been there.

Oh, and asking elsewhere, I've found somebody used to holiday in Weston in the late 60's, but no coaster at that point, but there were rides definitely (which is documented).
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Thanks for trying and so far you`ve managed to dig up more old photos than I have.
I e-mailed the pier but the new owners only bought it last february and have no knowledge.Apparently most records were lost in the fire.They did give me the names of the previous owners who had the pier for many many years but unfortunately no contact address.
I also e-mailed Joyland books which specialise in old funfairs and rides and they are checking their records.

I have also contacted my mother who has many old photos of days out to Weston and she is going to send them to me.
Who knows,there may even be one of me riding the damn thing!
It is possible as I have several photos of my son on rides,but I wont build my hopes up.

I just wish my father was alive as he would know.

It was my father who rode coaster with me and I would only have been aged 6 or 7 and it would have been about the summer of 62 or 63.
I only rode it once but I remember asking the previous year if I could go on and he said I was too young and maybe I could the next year.
The following summer after my ride the Figure Eight was gone.

So the ride must have been taken down in 1962, 1963 or 1964.

I will keep trying as I`m on a mission now!
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
As an update to my previous post I have closely studied one of the photos you put forward furie and I can now see where the Figure Eight stood and when it must have been dismantled.

The photo is called "Northside August 1963" and is a view of the right hand side of the pavilion looking in from the front entrance.
The space is very bare filled with fruit looking machines when normally the inside of the pavilion is crammed with rides.That is exactly where I remember The Figure Eight to have stood although it filled that whole side approx one half the building so went above the ride or whatever is shown in the photo at the far end.
Also it means the ride must have been taken down at the end of the 1962 season,or early in 1963 before the new season started.

The following summer from the photo (1964) that bare space was probably filled again with more newer rides as I always remember that side (north) to be as full as the left hand or south side.

The evidence is slowly building!
 

furie

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Brilliant to be honest :)

I remember the photo clearly, as it reminded me of my trip down Southport Pier last year :)

I'll admit, I've never seen a Figure eight "in the flesh", but the pier end at Southport probably could fit one, and it's not much different to that!

Evidence builds slowly as you say - excellent. I hope we can find something definitive and get this on the map :)
 

Pokemaniac

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I'd say - take a phone call to the local newspaper, asking for help. If they don't have anything in the archives, ask them to put a note in the newspaper, and to phone you back if something surfaces. There sure has to be some locals who remember this, and cameras weren't that uncommon in the sixties.

It's a nice story to follow too, almost like a family friendly detective novel with a very small target audience.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Oh my god this is gettin ridiculous....can't believe u joined CF!!!
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
A fleeting piece of evidence but very frustrating too as there is no other reference to it and sometimes it doesnt even come up at all,but try this.
(cant do a link because sometimes it dosnt work)

Type in a google search exactly with these words in this order.(pages from the uk only)

"older people will remember the figure 8 roller coaster on weston pier"
 
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